‘Big Brother’ Is One Fat, Juicy Novel

You haven’t seen your beloved older brother in years. Then he shows up at the airport, weighing hundreds of pounds more than the last time you saw him. That’s the premise of Lionel Shriver’s new novel, Big Brother. A touchy topic for our ever-widening times? Oh yeah – and meant to be. “We’ve lost our innocence about food,” the fit-looking Shriver told me over tea and biscotti at Washington’s Dupont Circle Hotel on June 11. “What we use food for …

Now Read This! Would You Just Die to Live in Palm Beach?

In 70-year-old Jane Grossman’s debut thriller, Dying to Live in Palm Beach, a klatsch of aging widows support one other through thick and thin. There’s a lot of the latter. “My characters keep up the faí§ade of living a care-free life in Palm Beach,” says Grossman. “But just below that surface you’ll find loneliness, anxiety and fear.” Grossman, who owned the famed Travelers Bookshop in Manhattan from 1982 to 1992, knows from Palm Beach, as one of her characters might say: Her …

Two New Novels Tackle Regrets and Past Lives

How do you process regret at midlife? Two new novels tackle that question in interesting ways. The Original 1982 imagines what might have been if its protagonist, a singer-songwriter-waitress named Lisa, had decided not to terminate an inconvenient pregnancy 31 years ago. Lori Carson, the former lead singer of ’90s experimental band The Golden Palominos, hooks you with nostalgic references to bygone music venues like Folk City, the West Village club that launched the careers of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy …

Now Read This! A Patterson Disciple Steps From the Master’s Shadow

“I probably wouldn’t be writing fiction if James Patterson hadn’t approached me,” says 59-year-old novelist Peter de Jonge. “I was a copywriter at J. Walter Thompson [ad agency] when Jim was the creative director there. I had just started writing for magazines on the side, and he spotted some of my pieces. I became his first collaborator.” The pair wrote a trio of thrillers together, starting with Miracle on the 17th Green (1995). De Jonge got a coauthor credit on …

Now Read This!: A Good Divorce Book Is Hard to Find

Last month I revisited my alma mater, Smith College in Northampton, Mass., to moderate a panel called “Empowering Young People Through Stories.” I know, I know: Where’s the AARP angle? Well, afterward I was approached by a friendly blonde who introduced herself as “Cindy, Class of 1982.” That made her 52, by my reckoning. We started talking books, naturally enough, and it turns out that Cynthia Copeland, as she is known professionally, has written 40 of the things, including Really Important Stuff My …

Now Read This!: Maya & Lady & Maya

Midrash, or the rabbinical interpretation of Old Testament writings, repeats certain phrases and scenes as a way to help the devout learn sacred texts. The technique may help explain why Maya Angelou seems to be repeating herself throughout her new memoir, Mom & Me & Mom. Before you unleash your outraged cries, I mean to say only that we’ve met these Moms before: One is Angelou’s fascinating and complicated mother, Vivian “Lady” Baxter, a figure well known to readers of her searing …